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Tuesday, 1 April 1980
Page: 1277

Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLE (Victoria) (Minister for Social Security) - For the information of honourable senators I present the first report of the National Consultative Council on Social Welfare and seek leave to make a statement.

Leave granted.

Senator DameMARGARET GUILFOYLE (Victoria- Minister for Social Security) (5.40)- Honourable senators will recall that the National Consultative Council on Social Welfare was established in late 1976 honouring the Government's commitment to provide effective mechanisms for co-operation and interchange of ideas with interested groups in the social welfare field. The Council first met in December 1976, and will hold its eighth meeting in Canberra in April.

This report covers the activities of the Council and its expert committees for the period to June 1979- a period which brought to light many important issues such as emergency relief, family policy, the needs of homeless persons and the delivery of welfare services to remote areas. These are covered in the report. Honourable senators will note that the Council has grown in membership since its inception. There are now 24 members. The original membership was expanded in September 1978 to include the chairmen of the State and Territory Consultative Committees on Social Welfare. These Committees had been established in 1977 to advise the Director-General of my Department on aspects related to provision of departmental services. This expanded membership has greatly enhanced the effectiveness of the Council; it is now possible for the Council to consult with, and receive advice from, a number of important sources at the State level.

The recommendations made to me by the Council have been most valuable. I have been able to consider the Council's independent advice on a number of matters, such as gaps and deficiencies in programs, assessment and review of priorities, and arrangements for the delivery of departmental services, and use this advice in developing the Commonwealth's social security programs. I commend the report to Honourable senators.

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